Sunday, June 28, 2009

I will miss Billy Mays

Of all the recent celebrity deaths (Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon) the only one that I immediately felt effected by was the sad news that Billy Mays has passed away this morning.
(CNN) -- Infomercial pitchman Billy Mays died at his Tampa, Florida, home Sunday morning, authorities told CNN.

The 50-year-old known for his shouting OxiClean ads was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. The Hillborough County medical examiner will perform an autopsy, Tampa police Lt. Brian Dugan said.

Mays was on the US Airways flight from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Tampa on Saturday that had a hard landing at Tampa International Airport when the plane's front tire blew out. There were no reported injuries on Flight 1241, US Airways told CNN.

According to a local Tampa TV station, Mays said: "All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."

The bearded Mays was a spokesman for Orange Glo and detergent OxiClean and appeared in commercials for other products.

He is featured on the reality TV show ''Pitchmen'' on the Discovery Channel, which follows pitch people in their jobs.

"It is with incredible sadness that we have to report that Billy Mays died in his sleep last night," said a statement from the Discovery Channel. "Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth. Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this time of incredible loss."
I think Billy effected me because he was current, he was on the edge of becoming a pop culture icon, and he was a brilliant business man. I loved his show pitchmen and I loved how quirky Billy Mays was. I also think we are going to miss out on 10-20 more years of seeing Billy on TV shouting about new products.

Billy has sold Billions of dollars worth of products on TV and turned himself into a brand. He was recognizable, his products set a new bar for As Seen on TV products and he was very wealthy to boot. I think the lesson here is to do what you love because Billy sure did, and while he may not have had much time to enjoy his success, the reward for him was the journey to becoming the #1 Pitchman on TV.

I see this a little bit like the deferred life plan of retirement, if you wait until 55 or so to start doing what you really want to be doing, you never know how long or if you will actually get to do that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Triathlons and Why the iPhone is Amazing (Reason #567)

So I did't post about this yet - but a few weeks ago a large portion of Meghan's family competed in a Triathlon here in town. For those that care about the details it was a 6 mile canoe, 5.5 mile run, and 18 mile bike.

I was impressed to see Meghan's Mom, Aunt, Sister, Cousins and Mere-Bear all compete in the triathlon - so I decided I would compete in the next one in October. Now I have to tell you I am a sprinter and I not only do I not run distance, but I don't enjoy it.

So I had to geek out my training so I would enjoy it!

Enter the iPhone app: RunKeeper (for FREE)

Most iPhones now have a GPS in them (not to mention a digital compass powered by a built in magnatometer - but that is for a different blog). So NET - you can just run with your iPhone and it will tell you how fast you are running, how far you ran, etc. And then it saves the data, uploads it to Google maps automatically and you get this creation:

My 2 Laps through my Neighborhood

This is my first training attempt - so I ran / walked for two loops around my neighborhood (each loop is about 1.1 miles). Not only am I impressed that the GPS knows which side of the street I am on, but I can use the data to look at my pace, and attempt to improve each time I run (both distance and speed).

Almost based solely on this app I decided to buy the new iPhone 3G S because I didn't have a GPS in my iPhone. Below are the differences with and without a GPS in both number of points and accuracy:

Old iPhone - No GPS

Actually I am amazed at how closely your position can be determined by triagulating your cell phone signal - so yes - your cell phone company knows where you are when you have your phone with you. But as you can see I never ran into people's houses and the data is not very accurate but surprisingly only within a 20-30% error on distance.

New iPhone with GPS

Here is where you get hundreds of data points and the GPS can tell which side of the street I ran on!

So my motivation for training is more so to generate data than to run, and I am competing with my old times - for me this makes me get out and run, so I guess it was worth the $199 to upgrade my iPhone.

PS - I am also using this app while driving to definitively tell me which way home from work is consistently the fastest! I will also publish my biking progress with this app.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Worst Cover (Song) Ever

I don't know... I thought this was funny for a few reasons:

1) Why this song? Most people don't play it long enough to get to the lyrics (sports intros are short)
2) It's not a good song to cover
3) These guys are NOT good

Monday, June 08, 2009

Funny Amazon Product:

The Top Selling item in apparel on is this sweet wolf T-shirt!

This is a great example of how viral marketing works (either intended or not).

Here's the item in case you haven't seen it:

Let's face it. It's a horrible shirt that doesn't have mass appeal.

Here are other items people interested in this shirt bought:

So I believe a stereo-type about who would buy this lead one customer to write an awesome review of the item, and all of a sudden this shirt is an internet sensation:
9,950 of 10,034 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Dual Function Design, November 10, 2008
By B. Govern "Bee-Dot-Govern" (New Jersey, USA)

This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that's when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to 'howl at the moon' from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn't have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn't settle for the first thing that comes to him.

I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women
Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the 'guns'), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.
Here's another great review:
2,016 of 2,056 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great compliment for my skin art, May 19, 2009
By overlook1977 (Raleigh, NC United States)

Unfortunately I already had this exact picture tattooed on my chest, but this shirt is very useful in colder weather.

Now people forward this item all of the place - inspiring others to be even more creative.

Here are some additional product images people uploaded:

I'll leave you to explore the other amazing pictures or reviews for this item.